A couple of weeks back Lainey Wilson stormed the Country Music Awards, winning Female Vocalist as well as New Artist of the Year, rewarding a woman who has been working hard to make a name for herself in a crowded and challenging mainstream country music world.
Her new album ‘Bell Bottom Country’ shows that she understands what modern country music needs to be – both familiar and yet forward looking, personal but full of common truths.
Opening songs ‘Hillbilly Hippie’ and ‘Road Runner’ blast out of the gates with energy and conviction. The songwriting is so good here because she goes really specific with the references making her best songs both distinctive and yet relatable.
On ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ she makes it clear to her listeners that she understands country music and its history, with a song that’s equal parts ‘Strawberry Wine’ and ‘Daddy’s Moonshine Still’. Dolly’s influence is also clear on ‘These Boots (Deddy’s Song)’ which conveys a lovely rose-tinted view of her father’s life.
After guesting on the hit song ‘Wait in the Truck’, Lainey has taken that oft-derided country music trope and turned it on its head with her stunning lead single from this album ‘Heart Like a Truck’. She has the vocal chops to really carry this and bring a little of Brandi Carlile’s epic singing style to the mainstream country genre.
‘Weak-end’ might be a groan-inducing pun but her voice has enough twang to sell a pretty basic hook up song. ‘Atta Girl’ and ‘Live Off’ are a far superior lyrical concepts and therefore feel really fresh.
So even if the whole ‘bell bottom’ theme is a gimmick it’s still refreshing to see a mainstream country artist who is trying to stand out from the crowd of replacement blonde glambots.
Lainey Wilson is no longer an up and coming artist, she’s now a mainstream force of nature about to star in the huge hit show Yellowstone and will be appearing at C2C next year. Here’s hoping she’s the start of a sustained trend towards new women artists reaching the upper reaches of the country music charts.